A relative of a three-year-old girl missing on the ‘disappeared’ Tamil asylum-seeker boat has made a personal plea to Australia’s Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, to protect his family from harm.
“I am desperate to know where my family is. I can’t function at all not knowing. I know all of them would be in very big trouble if sent back to Sri Lanka,” the relative of three-year-old Febrina (pictured) told the Tamil Refugee Council today through an interpreter.“I want to plead with the Australian minister to stop our pain and let us know what he has done with all the kids and families on the boat. I ask him to be kind to these people. They are all very frightened. They cannot be sent back to Sri Lanka. Many of them will be tortured again and even killed.”
The relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, fled Sri Lanka several years ago after being tortured. He currently lives outside south Asia. Several members of his extended family are among the 153 Tamil asylum-seekers on the boat believed to have been intercepted by Australian authorities last week.
The Tamil Refugee Council has learned the names and ages of nine of the many children on board. They include a 10-months old baby, Eela Nila. In order of age they are: Saran 12, Poorvika 8, Sureka 7, Dessan 7, Nagul 5, Jeevan 5, Rupan 3, Febrina 3, Eela Nila 10 months old.
The government has refused to give any information about the whereabouts of the boat, or the condition of the asylum-seekers. The boat departed from India, where the people were living in a refugee camp after fleeing Sri Lanka. It is believed that the Australian government is sending these people back to Sri Lanka. It announced today that it has already sent back another group of 41 Sri Lankans intercepted on a boat last week.
The relative has had no contact with his family on the boat for more than a week. He says he knows of at least 11 people on the boat who have been tortured in Sri Lanka. “I cannot understand why a country like Australia would send people back to Sri Lanka, knowing they have been tortured there. Why would they do it?” the relative asked.
Tamil Refugee Council spokesman, Trevor Grant, said today: “Australia has reached a new low with these actions. Thanks to Abbott and Morrison, we have become a country that disappears people to suit political objectives. It is a shameful state of affairs.”
“Morrison needs to come clean and stop using the tactics of a totalitarian regime. His primary objective is to make people suffer, including babies and infant children. To that extent, he is certainly achieving his aim.”
For further information contact the Tamil Refugee Council on 0400 597 351.